Many docs email and ask me whether they should get an EMR system or which chiropractic EMR system they should get . And, of course, the savvy decision makers (or those aflficted with analysis paralysis, ask — why or why not?

(Actually, to be technically accurate, the docs may use the term “chiropractic EHR system” – which is essentially means the same thing as EMR except that the letters E-H-R drive my autocorrect spell checker nuts and forcibly correct the word to refer to the feminine pronoun, HER. So I typically prefer to say EMR because it is easier on my typing abilities, but I digress…)

Put plainly, the answer to the question is not so simple.  So I’ve come up with 10 reasons you should get a chiropractic EMR system (or a different one) and 5 reasons you should not:

YES! You SHOULD get an EMR system (soon) because…

  1. You hate paperwork and fear drowning in it.  Face it, repeatedly writing similar things over and over again stinks.  Sure, you are not supposed to copy notes verbatim from one visit to another. But how many different ways can you truly say that the ROM is reduced?  In this respect, yes, a computer will save you time.
  2. The EMR ads are true (at least some of them, some of the time) — you will lose your opportunity to get in on an extra $15,000 of stimulus money this year (2013) if you procrastinate and don’t purchase a system this year.
  3. The $15,000 incentive money could pay for the whole shebang.  Yes, this is true for some systems.  Even if it doesn’t,  a “rebate” of $15,000 is better than nothing, especially if you are going to be purchasing an EMR system eventually anyway.
  4. It may cost you more to stay with your lousy system. Sure, it may be painful to switch. It may cost you some initially.  It may require another learning curve.  But it also may be painful to stay with a lousy system.
  5. Developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from attempting to produce a decent note by hand is bad for you and bad for business.  (And your notes still stink anyway).
  6. Your current EMR system stinks.  Yes, some systems are better than others.  This side of heaven, can you think of any product or service that has a field of competitors all exactly the same? Why would EMR be any different?!
  7. Your current system is not as flexible as you like. Some can be “broken up” into modules and allow you to purchase what you need. For example, if you like your billing system but hate documentation, there are some systems that allow you just to purchase a documentation module.
  8. Your EMR system is still not certified, if they don’t know what meaningful use is or have no training available for PQRS.  Yes, you should panic and yes, they are taking your money and returning you with a dead fish.  Sure you could still eat it, but why take the chance?  Get another system!
  9. You don’t want to look like a dinosaur.  Sorry but actions speak loudly.  And when your patients come in to your office to see your vintage 1972 shag carpet and see you in your velour track suit, they may get the hint that you aren’t very interested in this millennium.  But if you want to change your dated image, ditch the carpet, get some new threads and, oh yes, get an EMR system.
  10. You want to be ahead of the curve.  In many ways, the push for EMR is going strong.  No it’s not required for chiropractors in 2013, but our days may be numbered until it is.  Why be dragged kicking and screaming and potentially be forced into a quick decision at the last minute when you can choose wisely now (and if you do it this year, potentially save $15K in the process).

NO!  You should not get an EMR system if…

  1. You need to get your stimulus money immediately.  It’s not a “cash back” program or a discount code. You have to meet the requirements and wait for your check after you’ve demonstrated meaningful use.
  2. You think the EMR system will solve all your practice problems. Remember the basic facts: it’s a computer system.  Not a magic bullet, Aladdin’s lamp or some sort of cure-all for your various chiropractic business ailments.  You will probably never meet a new patient who chose your office because of the computer (but you may chase a few away because of your oldy moldy ways).  So be realistic.  If you have no practice, the computer won’t fix what’s not there.
  3. You can’t live with the fact that the $15,000 stimulus check is not guaranteed once you buy the system.  Again, you have to do your part and you must have a system that is certified to be eligible.
  4. You are convinced that the free systems are every bit as good as systems that cost $. In my opinion, most free systems are glorified word processing programs that could be built by your average sixteen year old computer hack.  Generally, you get what you pay for. But if you’re of a different opinion, you’re entitled to it and you probably shouldn’t purchase something for which you have a pre-disappointment scheduled.
  5. You don’t use banks, you don’t have a cell phone and you don’t use computers – and you like it that way.  The average age of your patient is 105 and they send smoke signals when they want to schedule an appointment. They pay you with wampum and only come during hours when you can adjust them by sunlight or the light of a full moon. Keep on truckin’ my friend.  The dark ages passed you up but you’re still kickin’ so perhaps your mojo is just a little stronger than most and I don’t want to be the one to burst your blissful bubble. Don’t buy.

Still confused?

For my completely opinionated, admittedly biased of what Chiropractic EMR system I recommend and why, you might want to check out this article (click link).

I hope this helps clarify your confusion!